Ben Macdui and 4 Neighbours


11 Loch Avon is the sun coming out


Area: Cairngorms

Munro’s: Cairngorm, Bynack More, Beinn Mheadhoin, Derry Cairngorm, Ben Macdui

Date walked: 04/09/2010

Time taken: 8  hours

Distance: 30 km

Ascent: 2180m

The Route



Click here for the gpx file


For some time I had planned to walk 5 munros in the cairngorms which would show me the most spectacular assets of these hills. The Barns of Bynack, Beinn Mheadhoin, Loch Avon, Loch Etchachan, Views to Braeriach, Cairn Toul and the Lairig Ghru from Ben Macdui, not to mention the spectacular Coire’s, crags and cliffs. Therefore I was waiting for a nice sunny day. After Fridays heatwave with the sun beating down all day and Saturdays forecast for much of the same the plan was on. I had checked MWIS and it forecast windy gusts of 45mph but I am sure it said 80% chance of cloud free munros in the cairngorms. Geez I was thinking I might get heatstroke hahaha.

As it turned out all the tops were in thick mist, in fact the mist was down to 1000m for most of my walk, and I saw virtually nothing. And to add to that MWIS got the winds correct. Anyway here is my story.

The Walk


After a 2hr 15min drive I was booted and away from the car at 0630hrs. They have laid some great paths up here and I took the one which read “Windy ridge” This path simply heads South East and then South for the 2.5km to the Ptarmigan restaurant. Yep it was windy and the restaurant was in the mist till I got close. Pass the Ptarmigan and onto the track, lined with posts, ascending a further 1km to the summit of Cairngorm.

Now I head South West down the hillside for 1.5km, following the boundary line, to the saddle. There are some large crags in the way during the descent but if you keep to the boundary line you can just about find enough grassy slope to avoid them. The slope is also wet with the mist and dew. Its now a 2km climb to the summit of A Choinneach and a further 1km to the Barns of Bynack. Just below A Choinneach there is some more boggy ground to cross. You just would not believe how thick the mist was. I was almost touching the Barns before I could see them looming out of the mist. Unbelievable.However I was sure that the mist would burn off in no time. After a further 0.5km North I arrive at the summit of Bynack More.

So, quick about turn and I follow my steps back to A Choinneach where I then head South South West down to the River Avon. I drop out of the mist so get some views of the Loch. I cross the river just below the Outfall, and fall in knee deep after slipping off a rock hahaha. I then head south up the slope of Beinn Mheadhoin and after 450m ascent and 1.5km I arrive at the summit tors. Again I am upon them before I see them lurch out of the mist. They are huge. There are two main tors and the mist is being blown through a gap in one of them like steam out of a kettle at a huge rate of knots. The wind is strongest here so far. I don’t want to hang around but know I have to climb this thing to get to the top. On the North West face there is an easy enough scramble to the top but the wind is worrying me and the tor is soaking wet. Nonetheless I get to the top, take a photo and head back down with no issues. I find a sheltered spot and have lunch.

Now I head South West for just under 2km to Loch Etchachan. Its a straight walk over the spot height of 1163m and then drop 200m to the East side of the loch. Again I drop out of the mist and take a photo. I now take the path which leads to Ben Macdui, but after 80m of ascent I head of the path heading south past the spot height of 1108m and then a further 2km to the summit of Derry Cairngorm. The last 1km is all boulder field and seems to go on and on. The weather looks a little better, still in the mist but the sun is trying to come through. Hopefully by the time I get to Ben Macdui I will get some views at last.

So head off back the way I came to rejoin the path to ben Macdui. I pass 6 walkers on there way to Derry Cairngorm. I head on up the path and meet a guy with a young lad. He looks about 9 and has just walked up Ben Macdui so well done. I take another photo and after a nice chat I continue on my way. Back into the mist and shortly on the mist shrouded summit of Ben Macdui. Story of my day unfortunately. Its busy here with a number of walkers and as I walk down I pass some more ascending and descending. .

Its now simply a matter of following the path the 8km back to the car. Mind you it was not easy to find amongst all the boulder rubble at the top. The downhill path is well built but it was torture on my auld knees.

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